R.K. Radhakrishnan

Chief Minister tells them to reduce the price to acceptable level

Prices registered runaway rise

Move, big saving for Government

CHENNAI: Egg producers have agreed not to quote over Rs. 1.90 an egg for supply under the nutritious noon meal scheme that benefits 57.64 lakh students.

As egg prices were registering a runaway rise, from the Rs. 1.80-Rs. 1.90 range to Rs. 2.25-Rs.2.45, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi intervened and talked to major producers, an official said.

Mr. Karunanidhi made it clear that the increase was not acceptable and asked them to reduce the price to acceptable levels. He felt that the last tender rates (Rs. 1.80-Rs. 1.90) were “good,” and wanted the producers to cut the rate down to this level. If the suggestion was not acceptable, he told them, the State would be forced to look for alternatives, the official said.

After the meeting, all major producers agreed to bring down the rate below the one fixed by the National Egg Coordination Committee. This amounted to a significant saving to the Government, since the sudden increase in the price meant that smaller districts spent about Rs. 1 crore additionally each year on providing three eggs a week to students, while the larger ones were forced to spend Rs. 2 crore more.

The Chief Minister’s intervention Minister also spared the district administrations negotiations with obstinate producers, which were fighting a losing battle against rising prices. They were in no position to stop the supply of eggs because this would affect the noon-meal programme. Hence, many resorted to an “in-between strategy” of weekly purchase to keep the prices down. The smaller producers were able to participate when purchases were made each week, so the prices were kept to reasonable levels but this meant that the district administration had to spend a disproportionate amount of time on a routine issue.

Department review

During the review of the Social Welfare Department at the Secretariat, the Chief Minister announced that the money granted for poor girls of marriageable age under the Moovalur Ramamirutham Ammaiyar marriage assistance scheme was being increased to Rs. 15, 000 from the present Rs. 10, 000.

Last year, the scheme benefited 45,999 women, and this year 50,000 will stand to gain. He directed the department to clear all pending requests by this month-end.

Expressing satisfaction over the functioning of the training institutes for the hearing impaired in 10 districts, he ordered that the scheme be extended to the remaining 20 districts. The scheme of giving Rs. 500 each month to 10,000 mentally retarded children for their upkeep has been extended to another 20,000 children. One centre each will be opened in all districts to cater for children aged below six, and affected with cerebral palsy.